K-5 Mandocello

The Gibson K-5 Mandocello

Unlike earlier Gibson Mandocellos, which had a body shape based on that of their mandolin counterpart, the K-5 sported the same body style as the 16-inch L-5 guitar and – like the L-5 – was priced at $275. The instrument featured a headstock fitted with eight tuners, a 24 fret fingerboard with an asymmetrical extension beneath the treble strings and a tailpiece designed to accommodate eight strings (more or less an F-5 mandolin tailpiece mounted to a trapeze tailpiece). Like the L-5 guitar of the period, most Loar era K-5 mandocellos featured a birch back. In a feature by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, that appeared in the July 2007 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine, it is noted that a K-5 mandocello appears in a late 1922 photo and the example pictured in the article is dated 10/13/23. Part of Gibson’s Master Model series, the K-5 first appeared on a Gibson price list in January of 1924 and the company continued to list the model through 1936.